Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock – E

“I’m on E. I’m on E. I’m on E”


I don’t know how or where I heard “Aeiou Sometimes Y” but it has stuck with me forever. It was released in 1984 by Elektra (I still have the cassette) and I have never seen the video so all of the imagined visuals are still mine, yes, videos can ruin songs forever. Out of curiosity I went to You Tube to see if there was a clip and found one which had the music deleted by the label. If you want to see what the public thinks about the majors have a quick read in the comments.

Anyways, from the cheesy “Toto, I don’t think we are in Kansas anymore” and “I dare you to play this record” lyrics there is still something incredibly mesmerizing about this single. After all these years I still can’t put my finger on it but I think it is the spoken word breaks that hooked me (as well as the Fairlight).  It’s a white New York hipster rapping about picking up a Swedish woman, cappuccinos, The Lincoln Center and keeping on your cowboy boots. Sometimes I don’t understand my taste in music, a true guilty pleasure.

Every Picture Tells A Story

Or, in my case, every pitcher tells a story. (Polaris founder Steve Jordan will get that one). If your only experiences with Rod Stewart is during the last twenty years do yourself a favour and listen to this absolutely classic 1971 album. Best known as the record that spawned the worldwide hit “Maggie May” (which was the B-side of the single “Reason to Believe”) the rest of the album is a brilliant mix of rock, traditional, folk and R&B. I will never tire of the title track as Rod chronicles his worldwide travels in search of love (or lust – “Shanghai Lil never used the pill, she claimed that it just ain’t natural“) and battles the great Maggie Bell as they finally hit the chorus four and a half minutes into the song. It’s rather ironic that Rod is now considered lame for his “The Great American Songbook” series while this album (containing more covers than originals) is considered a classic. I think what was missing from that series is the brilliance that was The Faces. Ron Wood has never sounded better than on this album and Kenney Jones (the man who replaced Keith Moon in The Who) lays down one of the great recorded drum solos on “(I Know) I’m Losing You”. Add in Ian McLagan, Long John Baldry, Maggie Bell and Ronnie Lane, and you have a damn near perfect record.

The El Mocambo

I still go to the “Good old El Mocambo” (I was there last week to see Papermaps) and Yvonne Matsell does a great job of booking the main floor. We, however, are going to the second floor and setting the way back machine to the late seventies. Reggie would be your doorman, you would be on the guest list of one of the major labels (CBS, WEA, Capital, Polygram, MCA, A&M or Quality) and you would be taken upstairs to a reserved seat against the side wall which was about 30 feet from the front of the stage which was on the other side wall. It was the days before drink tickets and if you were part of the media, the label was running a tab and you could have your choice of cocktails which covered pretty well everything you used to see on a Chinese food place mat. As you sipped your “Golden Cadillac” and waited for the headliner your eyes would always inevitably scan the walls for the collection of show posters . They were identical in design and featured the artist, LP cover, date of show and, usually the presenting radio station. The club became known worldwide in March of 1977 when The Cockroaches played with Canada’s own April Wine. Of course The Cockroaches were better known to the world as The Rolling Stones and they recorded songs for their “Love You Live” album late night (the 2 disc set also contained songs recorded at Maple Leaf Gardens). Add in a major Keith Richards drug bust and a Ronnie Wood dalliance with the Prime Minister’s wife and you had a story that quickly went viral before we knew what viral was. Exactly one year and a day later Elvis Costello caused pandemonium at the club when he played his first Canadian show. The line-ups went up the street and down College. The set was originally released by CBS Records Canada in a promo-only limited vinyl run of 500 (still have one) and since has been mass-released.

Some of my fave shows from this era were The Ramones, The Runaways, the debut Toronto performances from Devo and The Cars, Blondie, Joe Jackson (A&M asked those of us at the early show if we wanted to stay for the later performance as they wanted bodies in the room), Robert Gordon with Link Wray, Sparks, Nick Lowe and a host of British new wave bands that included The Headboys, The Yachts, The Records and far too many others to remember.

Brian Epstein

For a great read on the manager of The Beatles give Ray Coleman’s ‘The Man Who Made The Beatles” a page turn or two. Coleman was the editor of Melody Maker (who had a circulation of 200.000 copies a week in the late sixties) and right in the thick of it during Beatlemania. Coleman had a way of uncovering just the right amount of dirt on his studies (including a couple of good John Lennon books) without reverting to the kind of dirt used by the likes of Albert Goldman. Epstein wrote a quickie autobiography “A Cellarful Of Noise” in 1964 but Coleman gets much closer to the man behind the band.


Not the band, although I am a fan and did work with them when we distributed Ready Records and,  later signed Leon Stevenson and Spoon Sandy Horne when they formed the group Dog Won’t Bite. No, the end of this column, which I will endeavor to keep alphabetically apropos, will deal with upcoming events or events of the week gone by.

Mirroring Bob’s recent comments, hats off to Darryl Hurs and his team for a great job at Indie Week. I took part in the rainy town hall on Wednesday evening as well as the industry speed dating on Friday and managed to catch a few acts that impressed. I am still going through the huge amount of music I received from the delegate bag as well as what was given to me directly from the artists.

Montreal’s Ol’ Savannah blew my away at The Rivoli with their riveting set of what can only loosely be described as alt swamp. Banjo, guitar, squeezebox and drums (their bass player was absent) played by a group of guys who looked like they would ask to bum a cigarette the second you lit up outside. You can check them out at and grab a free download. Ireland’s Fox Jaw Bounty Hunters impressed with a late night Bovine set playing material from their new album “The Devil In Music” and, although they were missing their drummer I Am Not Lefthanded (also from Ireland) made a lot of new friends in Toronto as they seemed to be everywhere. New Brunswick’s Andy Brown, with guest bassist Alert The Medic’s Troy Arsenault, played a great little set at The Hideout and reminded me a bit of a rockier David Gray. Also keep an eye out for Ottawa’s Keek as the rock-pop that they are making is tailor made for the teenagers in your life.

Finally, if you live in Toronto, find yourself a half an hour between now and November 3rd and head down to The Liss Gallery (140 Yorkville Avenue) to see the amazing rock’n’roll photos of  the legendary Bob Gruen. The opening night party was a fantastic success and I had a chance to speak with my fave “Rock Scene” magazine photographer. Thanks to Brian and his staff for another great party and a special raised glass to Jody the bartender for concocting The New York Dolls and Iggy cocktails. You can still buy prints and signed Gruen books so start holiday shopping early.

We now have an email where all of us here at Don’t Believe A Word I Say can be contacted Please use it to ask questions, tell us what you would like to read about, links you would like to share, and, let’s hear what you have to say.

Cameron Carpenter has written for The New Music Magazine, Music Express, The Asylum, The Varsity. The Eye Opener,  The New Edition, Shades, Bomp!, Driven Magazine, FYI Music News, The Daily XY and Don’t Believe A Word I Say.

3 Responses to “Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock – E”

  1. Wow! Ebn-Ozn. I actually preferred (and purchased) the single “Bag Lady (I Wonder)” which got plenty of CFNY airplay action.

  2. Great piece, Cam! Couldn’t agree more with you on Keek – not exactly deep music but pure showmanship and a sure winner with legions of teenage girls!

  3. Ol' Savannah Says:

    Thanks for the write-up! These days, I guess, even bums have the internet. Take care and be well.

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